WASHINGTON -- The U.S. economy generated 209,000 new jobs in July, down from June but maintaining a solid 200,000-plus monthly streak since February, the Commerce Department said Friday.

The unemployment rate, rose a mere 0.1 point to 6.2%, still near its lowest level since October 2008 and well down from the 7.9% at the start of 2013.

Nevertheless, the number of unemployed rose by nearly 200,000 to 9.67 million, in part because of the constant increase in the number of working-age Americans, as well a return to the labor force by tens of thousands of people who had previously dropped out and were not counted as unemployed.

Average weekly earnings ticked up only slightly, suggesting, as the Federal Reserve said Wednesday, that there is still slack in the labor market despite the steady gains in job creation.

The new jobs were well-spread between the construction, manufacturing, professional service and retail sectors, and got a boost as well from 11,000 new jobs in the government sector.

Manufacturing added 28,000 jobs. 

"Manufacturing punched above its weight in July, showing that a rebound in the sector is possible," said Scott Paul, president Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM). "But we still have a long way to go. While the private sector has recovered all the jobs lost during the Great Recession, manufacturing is only 30% of the way back, and there are many obstacles that stand in the way of a true resurgence: a paucity of investment in our infrastructure, high trade deficits, and currency manipulation by countries like China and Japan.

"It’s important for Congress and the administration to get the policy right so that we’ll have more to cheer about. The significance of the auto sector and its supply chain was amplified by the July jobs numbers, accounting for more than half of manufacturing job gains. To keep this sector healthy and vibrant, we should build on that by ensuring that trade agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership prohibit currency manipulation

Average weekly earnings ticked up only slightly, suggesting, as the Federal Reserve said Wednesday, that there is still slack in the labor market despite the steady gains in job creation.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2014, IW Staff